Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Silos - Silent Killers

HBR articles never cease to intrigue me. Here's something interesting and KMish. For your benefit, here's the gist - Research conducted by a HBR team indicates that boundaryless organizations exist only in theory and that silos are a given. Goes a long way to prove that the larger the organization the more difficult it will be to break silos.

Interestingly enough, just before reading this article I was wondering about why senior managers are so hesitant to aim for a consensus. They seem to run away from anything that calls for a consensus. They see it as time-consuming, pointless, unmanageable and so forth. There is this underlying urge to be quick and get things done rather than understand or admit the long term implications of not involving as many people as possible. No wonder we live in silos. Silos of departments, silos based on seniority etc. Communication, itself, is seen as a pain. Imagine discussing, debating and concluding on a regular basis! What we need to realize is that engagement of employees need not necessarily contribute to decision making but they are nevertheless required to ensure commitment and enthusiasm.

Web 2.0 will help in bringing to light the existing boundaries and provide a path for breaking them. Web 2.0 will enable movements within the organization that may or may not scale all the levels. More often than not, they may cut through the lower and middle levels but not enter into the senior levels of heirarchy. They may help erase some department-based boundaries but I am not so sure about seniority based boundaries. But the movement at the lower levels will, I believe, force the management to reconsider their management philosophies or face failure.


Prashant Sree said...

Hi Nimmy,

Iam a newbie to KM jargon's yet please correct me If iam wrong.,. and if i have got the gist correctly. The article states that the Silos between different business
units are more like barriers in today's corporate.

And read on the link which you had shared. It gave some insights too.I wonder how will these studies findings will be implemented[if the organization decides to do that]. What will be the steps it has to go through to implement such changes.

Thanks for sharing such useful articles !!


Nimmy said...

Hey Prashant...! You're back! ;-)
Yes....you're right. The ideal organization is one without any boundaries....a place where anyone can contact anyone else across the board. That means easy access to information, knowledge and people. It means a sense of belonging. It means less politics. It means less complexity. It means more transparency and so forth.

Silos are the opposite. It leads to confusion, lack of awareness and lack of knowledge of how the organization works as a single entity. Silos mean that we are not leveraging on the knowledge that flows across the organization and working as small independent entities.

You raise an interesting question about what organizations will do with these results and how they will tackle the problem. I guess that deserves a separate post/article! My immediate thought is that it will be a huge cultural exercise.